The Oregon Coast Trail: the people’s access to the coastline Skip to content

Tillamook Coast Life Blog

The Oregon Coast Trail: the people’s access to the coastline

Thanks in large part to governors Oswald West and Tom McCall, the Oregon Coast belongs to all of us. The sea stacks, beaches, meadows – it is all open to the public. The Oregon Coast Trail (OCT) was designed and developed to showcase the splendor of our beloved coastline. From where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean, down to the California border, the OCT explores the coast and more.

The thing about the OCT is that it’s not what you would consider an official trail. It does not traverse the entirety of the Oregon Coast on one continuous, maintained path. While it does take advantage of long stretches of beach and other official hiking trails, it is still to some degree a work in progress. There are places where you have to walk along roads, including Highway 101. These detours from the coastline aren’t always the most scenic, admittedly. But if you’re the sort of person that’s into silver linings, these are opportunities to explore some of Oregon’s charming beachside hamlets and communities.

As you might have guessed, there are some excellent trail segments along the Tillamook Coast. Ascend and descend Neahkahnie Mountain and walk into Manzanita. Hike to Nehalem Bay or arrange a boat ride to Barview Jetty County Park. Take a boat from the Garibaldi Marina to Netarts Landing or hike there from Cape Meares. From there, walk the beach to Sand Lake and onto Pacific City. A combination of beach, road, and trail gets you from Pacific City to Three Rocks.

Cape Meares Octopus Tree
The famous Octopus Tree is a short hike from the Cape Meares Lighthouse parking lot.

The trail is consistently being assessed for improvement opportunities. As time goes on signage, development, and additional right of ways will make navigating the trail easier and more enjoyable. But as it exists today, the Oregon Coast Trail is a unique treasure and a significant feather in Oregon’s cap of natural wonders.


For more information, visit the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department website or pick up the comprehensive book, Exploring the Oregon Coast Trail, by Connie Soper.  And for more great hiking not on the OCT, you can visit Oswald West State Park, named after the aforementioned governor himself.

A Picture of Adam Sawyer
Adam Sawyer
Adam Sawyer is an outdoor and travel writer, photographer, and published guidebook author based out of Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Northwest Travel, Portland Monthly, Columbia River Gorge, Central Oregon, and Backpacker Magazines. He currently pens articles as the Portland Hiking Examiner for and authored the bi-weekly column Portland Family Outdoors for Craigmore Creations. He was the co-host of the KEEN HybridLife Radio Show for its duration and now serves as a Brand Ambassador for the company. In addition to “Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon” he is the author of the forthcoming "Best Adventures Near Portland," and the co-author of "Hiking Waterfalls in Washington," all for Falcon Guides. Adam is also a “Resident Expert” for Portland Walking Tours and leads a variety of tours through the streets of Portland, including the company’s popular Epicurean Excursion. Follow him at: